Probably the two greatest things my parents did for me were having a stable marriage, and making vegetables part of everyday life. But three moments from childhood (very possibly the last three my mum would think of) stick out in my mind as meaning a great deal to me.
1. One day my mum took me out of school for a dentist’s appointment. After the appointment was done, I realised Mum wasn’t taking me back to school. I asked her where we were going, and she said we’d just hang out for the rest of the day – which we did. As I recall, we also bought a pair of shoes. It was a day of glorious, unexpected freedom.
2. One holiday, my whole family went and stayed with my maternal grandma and grandpa in Coffs Harbour. Coffs Harbour has a beach, which is pretty much the definition of “holiday” in Australia. My brother and sister and I all knew that we were expected to assist in either cooking or hand-washing dishes every day, and we’d long since grown used to the idea (at home we had a dishwasher, but we were used to daily food chores). One day my grandmother told me to dust.
At home I was accustomed to washing bathrooms, doing clothes washing, cooking, dishes, vacuuming, tidying up public areas, gardening, and various other chores – but dusting was unfamiliar (I imagine Mum did it herself rather than risk her bits of precious). Not only was it unfamiliar, but it was a hot day, I was on holiday, and my grandma was acting as if I’d done nothing to contribute to the household and should have already offered to dust for her. We both got narky fast. To my enduring surprise, my Mum stood up for me, pointing out that I was on holiday, that I’d been doing my share of the chores, and that I was taken by surprise by her demand. I felt respected (and did the dusting).
3. Way back in primary school, four deep holes were dug in our backyard. My siblings and I discovered them when we arrived home from school. “I wonder what they’re for,” said Mum. “Something must be coming. Something. . . unusual.”
Soon after that day, the four holes were filled with concrete. “Hmm,” said Mum. “What could it possibly be?” I don’t remember the ensuing discussion very clearly, but I think there may have been suggestions about dinosaurs and/or aliens coming to our backyard.
Some time later, we came home from school, all a-wonder, and – THERE WAS AN ENTIRE PLAYGROUND IN OUR YARD. It had a variety of swings, a slide, monkey bars, and so on. In short, it was brilliant. We spent many hours playing on that playground for years afterwards, but when I look back it’s the fantastic, magic-edged mystery surrounding the arrival of an unknown something that sticks with me. I still love that sense of wonder.
Hopefully my own kids will have a few incidents like those that stick out in their memories and hearts.
I am twenty-eight weeks pregnant today, which means Louisette is now medically a “baby” rather than a “fetus”. From now on, even if she was born tomorrow, she’d probably be fundamentally all right. My muscle pain moved to my back for a while, but now seems to be largely gone. I’ve felt a million times better ever since the second trimester was done. Here’s some pics from the Moulin Rouge party (“Cabaret” was the other costume option) CJ and I attended last Saturday (it looks like I’m sticking ym belly out; I’m not):